Willian Advocates for His Embattled Manager, Mikel Arteta


Arsenal FC are enduring a rough road right now. There is still a chance at a trophy this season, via the UEFA Europa League, but domestically, they’re squarely stuck in mid-table. And that’s an improvement over where they were in the fall/early winter, lower table and listing towards the relegation zone.

It’s put some heat on manager Mikel Arteta, who will be given time to right the ship, but no one knows just how much more leniency will be granted. It’s a rebuilding project for the north London club, yes, but it’s not showing signs of clear forward progress right now.

Amid this environment, Gunners winger Willian, acquired on a free this past summer when his deal at London rivals Chelsea expires, stumped for his gaffer. The Brazilian believes that Arsenal will indeed soon return to elite levels their supporters have known, and that Arteta is the man to lead them there.

“I think it has the potential to be a great project, it’s a great club, it’s in the hands of a good manager, it has everything to become one of the best managers in the world,” Willian said to ESPN.

“Arsenal has everything to become a powerhouse again, to fight for titles, to play in the Champions League again, that’s what we players want.

“He always tries to talk to the players individually, even on the pitch, when he finishes training he calls the player, explains what he wants from the player, where the player should be, receive the ball… In other words, he is always trying to help the players to be better.”

“There is no complaint about this, he is doing a great job, he is always looking for the players in the best possible way, giving them ideas, guiding them, showing them what he wants. Arsenal is in good hands.”

A lot of Gunners supporters would refute what Willian had to say there, especially when they consider the source. Willian has expensively flopped this season, and his numbers (0 goals in 30 appearances across all competitions) suggest he’s washed now.

Willian admits that this has been his “worst professional moment to date,” and has vowed to come correct. He believes he’ll get back to the level he was once at.

“I think so. I feel ready to reach the level I reached at Chelsea,” he answered when the specific question was put to him.

“That is my goal, what I hope for, especially at the end of the season. I will try to do my best to help Arsenal in the best way possible, and reach the level I had when I was playing at Chelsea.”

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports IllustratedChicago Tribune and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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